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Santa Rosa council candidate explains GOP vote


Santa Rosa City Council Candidate Julie Combs sought Wednesday to explain why she voted in a Republican primary in Ohio when she lived there in 2006.

Julie Combs.

The neighborhood activist, who is endorsed by the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee, said in a written statement that she and thousands of other Democratic activists voted in the open Republican primary in an effort to defeat a Republican gubernatorial candidate who “held many extreme, right-wing positions.”

That candidate, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, won the Republican primary, but lost in the general election to Democrat Ted Strickland, who served until his defeat last year.

Combs said she felt compelled to explain the vote after an anonymous blogger questioned her claims of being a lifelong Democrat by noting that Ohio state records listed her party affiliation as Republican in 2006.

“I am not now, nor have I ever been a Republican,” Combs said.

When she voted in the open primary, she was not required to state her party affiliation. But she was required to select either a Democratic or Republican ballot, and that choice caused the county registrar of voters to list her party affiliation that year as Republican, she said.

She called the whole affair a dirty campaign trick.

“Some may disagree with this activist voting strategy, but to say that I compromised my principles, or that I have misrepresented my party affiliation on the Sonoma County Democratic Party’s application for endorsement is a complete fabrication and devious attempt to damage my campaign for City Council,” Combs wrote.

Stephen Gale, chairman of the Sonoma County Democratic Party, said the blog is clearly the work of a political partisan and urged the 40 members of the central committee to ignore it.

“It’s a joke,” Gale said. “It’s a non-issue.”

Combs said what troubled her most was the suggestion that she hadn’t been honest with the Democratic Central Committee.

“Over the years I have devoted hundreds of hours working for Democratic candidates and the party organization. I’m proud to have the party’s endorsement,” she said.

“For me, the story is ridiculous and over,” she added.

Terry Price, Combs’ campaign consultant, said switching party affiliations is not normally an issue in local nonpartisan political races, but said it does come up from time to time.

In 2002, during Santa Rosa City Councilman Mike Martini’s failed bid to unseat Rep. Lynn Woolsey in the Democratic primary race, some Republicans switched affiliations to vote for Martini. Woosley, who called Martini a closet Republican, trounced him with 81 percent of the vote.

Price also noted that Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Olivares, currently a Democrat, wrote on a county voter registration form in 2001 that he had previously been registered as a Republican. Olivares did not return a call for comment.

And Olivares’ campaign consultant, Herb Williams, was a longtime Republican who switched parties in 2002, in part to vote for Martini, but also to avoid questions about Republican positions on gay rights and women’s rights with which he disagrees, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. OnTwitter @citybeater.

23 Responses to “Santa Rosa council candidate explains GOP vote”

  1. Susan Dawson says:

    I’ve known Julie all her life, since I am her sister. I literally laughed out loud when I read about her having voted Republican, since there is no way that ever happened. She is not mean, I’ve seen her with her daughter, I’ve seen her with my (our) 90-year old mother, rubbing lotion on her arms, brushing her teeth. She arranged to take mom when I was struggling to maintain sanity working a full-time job and caring for a mom with Parkinson’s. I have seen her be very passionate about her beliefs, and a little stubborn in disagreement, but never mean or nasty. She is smart and brave and funny, she is NOT a Republican, and she never has been.

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  2. Tom Sullivan says:

    Julie Combs is an angry, single issue, fractionalist candidate who wants to send our city back into the stone age where exist as autonomous villages as opposed to a cohesive city that provides services to all areas and groups. I have been a life long resident of Santa Rosa and don’t define my existence by the ZIP code in which I reside, but as a Santa Rosan. What does it say about a candidate who rabidly supports district elections? It says that they don’t believe that they can appeal to all of the voters, so maybe carve up the city, create an unhealthy rivalry between the districts and squeak out a win with 25% of 14% of the electorate. Julie Combs and District Elections are BAD FOR SANTA ROSA.

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  3. Kay Tokerud says:

    Julie Combs was mean and nasty before the Santa Rosa City Council when they denied the CAB (Community Advisory Board) requests to change the mission statement for them. The CAB was attempting to give themselves a lot more power and discretion in the use of City funds. Then the next week she turned into a wimpering brown noser when the council was doing something she wanted them to do. She changes according to whether or not she is winning.

    The CAB, that Julie sits on is behind the effort at district elections because she and others on that board want to get onto City Council. They think that district elections will give them a better chance to win because they won’t have to compete as much to win a district. She and the other progressive activists want to control everything in Santa Rosa.

    This recent revelation shows how far this extremely partisan candidate will go to defeat people on the other side. We already know her character so why vote for her? The three women running are all unqualified candidates who don’t deserve a seat on the City Council. Wysocky also is an extreme partisan to avoid.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 6

  4. Frank says:

    local nonpartisan political races, LMAO

    boots and shovel ready

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  5. Dick Tracy says:

    What a non-controversy.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  6. Terry Jensen says:

    Maldonado: “I believe in people’s right to vote how ever they want to as long as it’s legal.”

    Wow! That sounds patriotic up until you consider things like, “I believe in ignoring the poor as long as it is legal”, or “I believe in the KKK’s right to hate speech as long as it is legal.”

    Of course people have the right to do whatever they want in this country as long as it is legal. What an obvious non-committal response by you. What about what is the right thing to do? Ms. Combs used her constitutional right to vote as a strategy to disenfranchise another’s vote. People have died to protect her right to do that, but in the end it is a disgusting display of lack of moral character no matter how you slice it.

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  7. Lisa Maldonado says:

    I believe in people’s right to vote how ever they want to as long as it’s legal.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 35

  8. Terry Jensen says:

    Ms. Maldonado,
    So do you support voting in a primary and doing so with the intent to cancel out someone else’s vote of a party you do not belong to?

    If so, then you really don’t believe that everyone should be represented (ala district elections for example) by one person one vote.

    Hypocrisy and lack of character rule the day doesn’t it?

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 7

  9. Lisa Maldonado says:

    The North Bay Labor Council is proud to endorse and work for Julie Combs for Santa Rosa City Council. Her hard work as a neighborhood activist and her tireless support of working families and Measure Q which would give working people a voice in politics is probably the reason for these baseless anonymous attacks and dirty tricks. Julie is a great candidate and is working hard to win a seat on the City Council. The anti- environmental and anti labor majority is fearful of a candidate that is so smart, progressive and competent. Hence the anonymous attacks hiding behind “Roosevelt” or “Truman” What a joke using their names to spew lies and attacks. Both of those fine gentleman would be disgusted by people too scared to talk politics freely and openly without hiding behind a hateful and childish anonymity. If attackers are not willing to post using their real name they have no credibility (as so many of the people on WSC have proven) Keep up the great work Julie, that’s the way you win!

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  10. Terry Jensen says:

    If I were Caroline Banuelos or Erin Carlstrom (Julie Combs’s buddies running for City Council), I’d stay clear of Ms Combs. This woman is toxic. Time to vote for people that are non-partisan when it comes to Council.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 9

  11. bill says:

    As usual, career politicians will stop at nothing to advance careers as politicians. This type of individual flies in the face of what our democracy is all about.

    Having served, those people should pass the mantle to new participants and keep our system of governance open and honest.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 10

  12. The Bard says:

    To be, or not to be working for your electorate, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to blindly follow your party, or to take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing, help the people? Truth, you are afraid to go against the wishes of your party, less they should toss you from your throne. The people? Let them eat cake! You are oft self served, and something is rotten in the state of politics!

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  13. Jean Anderson says:

    Many people change political party affiliation based on an open-mind, or a willingness to support a better candidate, or perhaps when heir worldview changes as they mature.

    This woman is obviously close-minded and would NEVER. EVER, EVER be anything else than a left-wing zombie, unless of course she could game the system and use it to her advantage.

    Nice choice for city council.

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  14. Enigma says:

    I thought city council is non-partisan!

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

  15. Kirstin says:

    It is not “a dirty campaign trick,” Ms. Combs. It is letting the voters know the facts about what kind of electoral choices you have made in the past. Now, people can vote with a fuller understanding of your view of political expedience.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 6

  16. Snarky says:

    I’m always amazed that voters put up with any politician who admits that they sometimes, or always, vote “their conscience.”

    Note to government people: you work for us. Nobody cares about your “conscience.”

    You should never have entered government if you cannot suppress your “conscience” and genuinely represent voters who differ in their desires than you.

    To use “conscience” as an excuse to vote their own way is nothing more than a smoke screen to cover for their disrespect of the public. Anyone who mutters such things should automatically be put up for immediate recall.

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  17. Terry Jensen says:

    “Some may disagree with this activist voting strategy, but to say that I compromised my principles, or that I have misrepresented my party affiliation on the Sonoma County Democratic Party’s application for endorsement is a complete fabrication and devious attempt to damage my campaign for City Council,” Combs wrote.

    Ah, not the point. You mean it is within your character and principles to purposefully cancel out others votes simply because you disagree with another’s choice to represent them within their own party.

    I don’t care if you ever were a Republican, Democrat, or Green Party or whatever before. The point is you played with the system many have died to protect, Ms. Combs.

    Think about it before you give a thumbs down. By doing so you are agreeing that it is OK to manipulate the vote of another. You may support Ms. Combs for other reasons, but to agree with her logic and manipulative behavior back in Ohio worries me about the future of my city.

    Thumb up 43 Thumb down 11

  18. Terry Jensen says:

    What a disgusting display of unethical voter manipulation by Ms. Combs. It is clear she represents everything that is wrong with politrics.

    She states that she champions district elections because, “everyone deserves to be represented…” and yet she purposefully and knowingly disenfranchised Republican voters in Ohio who have the right to vote their choice to represent their party in an election.

    We need to unite together to stop this kind of fraud and abuse by politicians and vote against Julie Combs, an extremest politician, who isn’t even from Santa Rosa. She showed her true colors in Ohio displaying a lack of moral character that I cannot support.

    Thumb up 41 Thumb down 14

  19. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I know Republicans who register as Democrats so they can vote for one of the Democrats in the primaries to split the democratic vote and cause a runoff. Nothing new here.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 31

  20. Commonsense says:

    If she wasn’t required to state party affiliation, but only required to choose either a democratic or republican ballot, her only reason for choosing a republican ballot was to affect the opposing party voting process. It’s unethical behavior that the Democratic Party has often accused Republican’s of participating in, but apparently it’s ok to do as long as the ends justify it. Another example of how many in both party’s no longer hold each and every person/party to the same set of standards. This is pathetic, and she is unethical and disingenous at best. We really need to start cleaning both party housed and acting like ethical, reasonable and principaled adults or we can kiss our awesome country and constitutional system goodbye. Shameful.

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  21. Big Jim says:

    So Ms. Combs lied by masquerading as a republican in an effort to disrupt the democratic process of that party nominating a candidate, and she justifies this by saying she disagreed with a candidate’s views. Are all democrats equally willing to subvert democracy to achieve their ends? Seems to show a lack of moral character at the very least.

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  22. Dan J Drummond says:

    There were approximately 55,000 registered Republicans and 128,000 registered Democrats in Sonoma County for the June 5, 2012 election, per the Registrar of Voters web site, http://vote.sonoma-county.org/content.aspx?sid=1009&id=2530.
    In that election, 70,000 Democrats voted (54.9%) verses 30,000 Republicans (54.2%).
    I think she has a chance.

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  23. Skippy says:

    Sonoma Co politicos have to make loud announcements denying any affiliation with Republicans to avoid being electorally lynched.
    It would take a search and rescue team to find a Republican in California politics these days anyway.
    Makes sense though. The Democrat majority has every taxpaying family on Easy Street all by themselves.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 7

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